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Junior League of Buffalo Commemorates 100th Anniversary with Sculpture at Burchfield Penney Art Center

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The Junior League of Buffalo (JLB) has announced that artist Shasti O’Leary Soudant has been selected to create a sculpture commemorating its centennial that will be permanently installed on the plaza outside the Burchfield Penney Art Center at SUNY Buffalo State College. O’Leary Soudant’s work, titled Do Not Mistake My Softness for Weakness, will stand as a tribute to the strength and power of women and girls in the region and beyond. The work is a gift of the Junior League to the Burchfield Penney for all to enjoy.
O’Leary Soudant was awarded the project following an inclusive RFP process administered by a diverse 12-member selection committee with wide-ranging backgrounds. The design will be unveiled on Tuesday, September 10, at 10:00 a.m. at the Burchfield Penney.
“For the last 100 years, the Junior League of Buffalo has been committed to developing strong, empowered, women civic leaders, whom over the decades have acted as catalysts for change in our great community,” said Cindi McEachon, JLB president. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity for JLB to partner with Shasti on a piece that speaks to all women, encapsulating our diversity, beautifully celebrating our past while provoking thought about our future,” 
Composed of six vibrantly colored sculptures ranging in height from 5 to 12 feet, the form symbolizes a transformational stop on the lifelong journey of womanhood.

“The six revolving elements represent a faceted avatar, evoking the different stations of feminine power, progression, and metamorphosis: from youth to old age, naivety to wisdom, timidity to courage, obedience to defiance, stoicism to exuberance,” describes O’Leary Soudant. “Do Not Mistake My Softness for Weakness speaks to the necessity to rise and claim womanhood for ourselves, in whatever way we see fit. The sculpture is my ode to our eternal becoming.”
The sculpture was made possible by private donations from both individual JLB members and the community through a fund independently established by the JLB. The organization acknowledges the generous support of the M&T Foundation, the John R. Oishei Foundation, the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Legacy Funds at the Community Foundation, the Baird Foundation, the James H. Cummings Foundation, the Davis Family Foundation, KeyBank in partnership with First Niagara Foundation, Delaware North Corporation, the Josephine Goodyear Foundation, and the Cynthia Vance and Scott Smith Charitable Fund.
Buffalo State President Katherine Conway-Turner said, “We are thrilled to feature the work of such an innovative and thought-provoking artist on the Burchfield Penney plaza. Shasti O’Leary Soudant’s sculpture is a testament to the strength found throughout womanhood, including that of a young woman coming into her own. This is fitting for a college with a rich history of fostering excellence in women, along with men, during their academic and emotional journey through early adulthood. We are so grateful to the Junior League of Buffalo for enabling the Burchfield Penney to bring this evocative sculpture to our campus for the surrounding community to enjoy.”
“Adding a major public sculpture that is both by and about women is a wonderful and important addition to Buffalo’s urban landscape,” said Dennis Kois, Burchfield Penney executive director. “Great cities have great public art, and we couldn’t be more grateful to have received this gift from the Junior League of Buffalo in celebration of their important work and legacy of giving. Shasti’s work will be a colorful, energetic, and welcoming presence on the SUNY Buffalo State campus.”
The work will be fabricated in Buffalo by Rigidized Metals, which collaborated with the UB School of Architecture and Planning to create the Burchfield Penney’s three 24-foot stainless steel projection towers in the Front Yard gallery.
About Shasti O’Leary Soudant
Shasti O’Leary Soudant is a transdisciplinary artist, designer, and writer. In her art practice, she uses a wide range of media and material to create immersive experiences that concern perspective, hidden forces, randomness, iterative systems, and transformation to initiate meaningful engagements with the public. O’Leary Soudant has exhibited internationally, and her work is in private and public collections across the country.
About the Junior League of Buffalo
The Junior League of Buffalo Inc. is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable. ​
About the Burchfield Penney Art Center
Established in 1966 on the campus of SUNY Buffalo State, the Burchfield Penney Art Center is dedicated to the art and vision of renowned American watercolorist Charles E. Burchfield (1893–1967) and the distinguished artists of Western New York state. The museum includes more than 84,000 square feet dedicated to galleries, as well as education and program space. It is home to the world’s largest collection of artwork and ephemera by Burchfield and a collection of more than 8,000 works by more than 850 artists. The Burchfield Penney was the first LEED-certified art museum in New York State and was featured by travel editors of the New York Times as one of the “44 Places to Go” in 2009.

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